1-7 September 2008

September 9 2008 at 10:08 pm (The list)

I feel all productive after ticking three great films off the shame list last week:

 

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Bloody long but well worth it. While the impressive cast includes Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Jack Hawkins and Omar Sharif all acting their sandfilled socks off, Peter O’Toole is particularly charismatic and captivating in the title role, and making almost four hours fly by. The compelling and inspiring story is made all the more arresting by David Lean’s visionary direction, making the most of the vast canvas of the desert and making its searing heat burst from the screen. All this, plus Maurice Jarre’s majestic score make Lawrence of Arabia the perfect example of epic filmmaking.

Rating: 5/5

 

 

The Thief of Bagdad (1940)

This entertaining Arabian adventure fantasy has aged well: colourful, sparky and brimming with great sequences from magic carpets to giant malevolent genies to flying mechanical horses. There are some classic 1940s matinee performances from Conrad Veidt’s boo-hiss pantomime baddie Jaffar to John Justin’s dashing hero, Ahmad. The special effects must have been impressive to 1940s audiences (and they were responsible for one of the three Oscars the film won) and most of them give the film a kind of age-worn charm, although the film does feature possibly the shittest spider in screen history.

Rating: 4/5

The Diving Bell And The Butterfly (2007)

This is one of the most recent films in the list (it only appears on the IMDb top 250) but that doesn’t diminish its power. The Diving Bell And The Butterfly tells the tragic true story of French Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby (Jean-Do to his friends) who suffered a stroke and left him with ‘locked-in syndrome’. Completely paralysed apart from his left eye, he communicated by blinking and ‘dictated’ his best-selling memoirs from which the film is adapted. Although a difficult subject to tackle visually, Julian Schnabel’s efficient direction effectively puts us in Bauby’s mind allowing us to see and experience what he does without making the film feel too claustrophobic by pulling back to witness what his friends and family go through. Ronald Harwood’s honest script never allows us to feel sorry for Jean-Do by showing his understandable cynicism, and the film is held together by deeply affecting performances from all. A poignant and unmissable depiction of the triumph of willpower.

Rating: 5/5

Shame list total: 1,211

 

Also watched last week:

 

Hot Rod (2007)

Rod Kimble (Andy Samberg) is a wannabe stuntman who’s frankly not very good. What this means is that he spends a lot of time attempting absurdly ambitious stunts on his moped while wearing a fake moustache (he thinks it makes him look more butch) and hurting himself very badly. When his stepfather, Frank, who hates him (a hilariously savage Ian McShane) is taken ill, Rod takes it upon himself to raise $50,000 to fund a heart transplant… just so he can legitimately kick Frank’s ass and finally gain some self respect. Some good laughs and a retro ‘80s metal soundtrack make this a watchable if forgettable comedy starring a number of Saturday Night Live alumni.

Rating: 2/5

 

 

 

 

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